John Yeon's Portland Visitors Center gets restored for the Portland Rose Festival
On March 7, 2009, our inaugural posting on this blog announced our plans to renovate the historic Visitors Information Center building, more commonly known as McCall's restaurant building. Here's what we wrote:
"Many Portlanders are unaware of a historic jewel that sits right on the City's front porch in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. If you don't recognize the historic Visitors Information Center building pictured here, it's because the building is known today as the McCall's restaurant building and it's just a shadow of its former self.
Commissioner Leonard is going to change that. Recently, Randy and the Portland Water Bureau acquired the site from the Parks Bureau in exchange for some surplus property needed by Parks, a creative solution developed by Commissioner Nick Fish.
The building was designed by renowned Portland designer John Yeon and constructed in 1949, and its modernist design represented the early stages of what would become a movement in the design world. Yeon did not produce an expansive portfolio of buildings, but those that he designed have influenced generations of designers, particularly in the Northwest. The Visitors Information Center was also viewed as an important design in its time and was displayed in exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The City has already begun a renovating the building, and improvements will include new landscaping that will feature an impressive collection of roses, the restoration of the historic water feature, restoration of windows and building materials from the original structure, and a paint job that will use the original color selected by John Yeon. When that is complete, after many years of sitting vacant, the Portland Rose Festival Foundation will be moving in to have a permanent presence on Portland's front porch.
Randy's vision for the building includes a monument to the City and to the Rose Festival in the form of an elegant neon rose that will be visible from the east side of the city....Graphic designers are working on a polished design for the rose that will be constructed and installed for the city free of charge after a generous offer to the City by Ramsay Signs.
Today, just a little over a year from our original post, the renovation is complete and the Rose Festival has moved into the building, having begun a new chapter to the story of this important building. Architect Steven Ewoldt of Spytype Architecture and Portland designer Curtis Banger added their fingerprints to the legacy of John Yeon by carefully and creatively balancing Mr. Yeon's creative vision with the modern purpose the building serves, and Water Bureau Project Manager David Gray carefully executed their design. The results speak for themselves.
Here are some photographs of the structure that was so deteriorated from its original condition, John Yeon suggested that it should be razed:
And here are some photos of the renovated building taken just this week:
The results do speak for themselves, and the building will be nominated for the local, state, and national historic registry in the coming months to insure careful stewardship of the building in the future.
Special thanks to Architect Steven Ewoldt, designer Curtis Banger, Water Bureau Project Manager David Gray, the Friends of John Yeon, the Portland Rose Festival, and the many City employees who poured their heart and soul into making sure this project was a success!
Posted by: TK